The people of Texas’s Rio Grande Valley are fiercely proud of their dual Mexican-U.S. heritage.

“I don’t think that the rest of the country knows just who we are down here in the Valley,” Xavier Villarreal, a rancher, says. “We’re the greatest American people that can ever exist because we identify ourselves as Americans. We’re not brown, we’re not Black, we’re not white. We’re Americans. All of us.”

But they feel misunderstood by Washington and the media.

“People that are analyzing the politics of South Texas are not understanding that the folks down here come from different perspectives,” congressional candidate Rochelle Garza says. “We’re not a monolith.”

Until recently, the nation’s two political parties saw the voters of the Rio Grande as exactly that — a monolith, and historically, a Democratic monolith. That’s been changing over the past two election cycles.

Today, On Point: We get to know the voters of the Rio Grande Valley.


Cynthia Villarreal, retired teacher and counselor. Currently, she does educational counseling and consulting.

Xavier Villarreal, rancher. He raises cattle on 525 acres.

Michael Rodriguez, managing editor of The Monitor.

Rogelio Nuñez, co-founder of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center. Executive director of Casa de Proyecto Libertad, which provides legal services, education and advocacy to immigrants.

Perla Bazan, substitute school teacher. Formerly a Democrat, she switched parties and voted for Trump in 2016. In 2020, her whole family joined her in voting for Trump.

Also Featured

Ross Barrera, Republican politician in Rio Grande City.

Rochelle Garza, Democratic congressional candidate for Texas’s 34th District. (@RochelleMGarza)

From The Reading List

Texas Tribune: “Donald Trump made inroads in South Texas this year. These voters explain why.” — “It was a strange sight in Starr County: More than 70 vehicles, decked out with Trump 2020 flags, parading 13 miles along the Texas-Mexico border from Roma to Rio Grande City.”